Bigotry detection is, of course, a controversial science. I’d like to contribute to its sophistication. Arthur Goldwag is, as so many are, an opponent of “conspiracism”. An extract from his new book on this and related themes recounts his experiences with “9/11 Truthers”, and imputes to them a hefty racist element…

But what took me by surprise was the outsize role that Jews played in the anecdotes that so many of them related: warmongering Jewish neoconservatives in Washington, D.C.; the World Trade Center’s owner, Larry Silverstein, in New York City; even well-known Jewish leftists like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Amy Goodman, who had stubbornly and, to their accusers’ minds, unaccountably refused to endorse the agenda of 9/11 Truth. Binding them all together was the Zionist entity of Israel.

Now, don’t get me wrong: a lot of people who’ve been involved in “9/11 Truth” have been Jew haters and, yes, that goes for just about all fringe groups: they’re attracted to them like men to broken-down cars. Yet Goldwag’s point reminds me of when people used to claim that opposition to neoconservatives is liable to be anti-semitic because, er – lots of neoconservatives are Jewish. And, indeed, when people implied that criticism of Goldman Sachs was anti-semitic because, er – lots of its employees are Jewish.

Look – members of racial, gender and sexual demographics can, in fact, be represented in different parts of societies on a scale that’s incommensurate with their actual number. And in the States that’s true men and women of Jewish descent in economic, political and intellectual life. One’s interpretration of these facts can be extremely bigoted but the mere recognition of them can’t because, well – they’re facts. So, if you criticise businessmen, politicians or intellectuals you’re pretty much bound to be criticising lots of Jews. For example, this essay by Peter Collier of FrontPageMagazine denounces leftists such as Chomsky, Goodman, Klein, Howard Zinn and John Stewart. Hrm – all Jewish, aren’t they? Does this make the longtime collaborator of David Horowitz an anti-semite!? Well – no. No more than my list of favourite comedians makes me a Judeophile. If someone’s targeting members of a particular demographic that’s deplorable, of course, but there need to be good reasons to feel that they’re targeting them because they’re members of that demographic. Otherwise you’re just mindreading. And not very well.

Update: Arthur Goldwag clarifies his comments in the, er – comments.

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